Apple Music vs Spotify vs Google Music

To determine which service is the best we have to go back to the roots of all great music. Finding that track, you could bump over and over again.

Remember Rasputins? Or tower records? Or your local record shop?

For my friends and I, it was always fun to walk into a record shop and sort through CDs. For you, it may have been crates of records or tapes. It was the thing to do on a Saturday afternoon. Usually when it was too hot to play basketball. The cool AC at the shop was just what we needed.

The enjoyment was always in the discovery. I got good at flipping through those CD cases fast. Running back and forth from the rap section to R&B then back wasn’t as annoying as it sounds.

When 2Pac’s “All Eyes On Me” came out we knew it was going to be good. Every single track was and still is a classic.

The challenge though was we didn’t have enough money or time to discover all the music. We could have dug through music and argued about west coast vs. east coast hip-hop all day.

The Winner?

Fast forward to 2018 and all the hype is streaming music. Every service now touts 30 million-plus songs in their database. High-quality streaming. Playlists. Every service is necessarily the same. Except for one. Apple Music.

Apple Music figured out and emphasizes the one crucial thing about music. Discovery. It is at least half the enjoyment of listening to good music was the journey to find it.

It brought me back to flipping through those CDs or finding that rare B side track.

I was a long time Spotify user for ages. However, with Apple Music, I find it easier to discover music and browse around.

The “For You” area is quite excellent at recommending new tracks. I recommend getting the family plan to avoid mixing in nursery rhymes with TJR and Steve Aoki although Apples’ algorithms do an excellent job of presenting different genres and playlists.

In the end, all the music services provide the same basic functionality — extensive libraries and customizations.

Apple Music though does the best at focusing the UI and UX to the best part of music. Discovery.

Design Review: ProtonMail

protonmail.jpg

Encrypted and based in Switzerland? Sounds interesting. 

On their homepage you'll find a bunch of cool features. At least cool to me. Swiss privacy. End-to-end encryption. Anonymous email. Open source. This is all good but ehhh. Intriguing for a nerd but the market doesn't really care. 

Wait a minute...then they list easy to use and modern inbox design. Ok now we are talking. "Security without the hassle" and "Security with productivity" is catchy. This the market does care about. 

Secure email will never get mass adoption without a great user experience. In the past, not many companies were able to solve this problem. When you think of security and encryption, I immediately think complicated. 

Protonmail makes it very simple. Just as simple as creating a Gmail account. This is really the most important factor. The underlying technology is an after thought when you just want to check email. 

The purpose of Protonmail and similar services is to keep your communications secure. Away from prying eyes. Corporate and government eyes. Even from hackers. You may think you have nothing to hide. That is true for most of us. I am mainly interested in security from hackers and general privacy when it comes to email. 

This led me to Protonmail. Check out this video for more into. You got privacy?

Sending an email message is like sending a postcard, says scientist Andy Yen in this thought-provoking talk: Anyone can read it. Yet encryption, the technology that protects the privacy of email communication, does exist. It's just that until now it has been difficult to install and a hassle to use.

 I signed up for the free account to get 5MB to check out the service. I almost immediately signed up for the paid account. The setup was extremely easy and the user experience is great also. 

For example, out of the box swipe right is archive an email and swipe left is trash. Simple. Touch ID setup was easy. Everything you would expect was simple. 

They really thought about the user experience. Even using the ProtonBridge to setup encrypted email on your desktop was easy. The bridge also can setup your Apple mail for you. Brilliant. 

The web portal is very good. They even show you how to secure your domain. This may be for a more advanced user but wasn't too bad for me. 

Not perfect

There are some drawbacks. It can be confusing to understand which plan to buy. Some plans give you 20G of total space. Then some give you a different space per user. Then another one included VPN. 

Setting up different email addresses seems quirky also. 

The major drawback is contacts isn't integrated with iOS. Meaning I can't save Proton contacts on my iPhone to a iPhone contact directory. I understand they want to keep it secure. Problem is if someone emails me and I save their email into a contact, I won't be able to text them from iPhone. It doesn't transfer over. 

Another big big drawback is no calendar support. This is a big problem for me. They say its on the roadmap. Even if it does come out I don't we will get iOS support. 

This leaves me with still having to use Gmail. I'll live with it for now. At least I got one secure email account. Nice work Protonmail.

Tesla Model S is near perfect

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Design matters a great deal. There are a number of articles on how awesome the Model S is for EV car. Most notably the 0-60mph in just a few seconds gets all the press. 

Yes, it is quite safe. Looks cool. etc etc. However, there are many overlooked design features that make the Model S truly a work of art. 

To make a car where an overwhelming favorite for customers who "love" their Tesla means they did almost everything right. Most importantly they designed the user experience right. 

Tesla Model S Awesomeness

Let me count the ways. In no particular order. 

  1. They key fob looks like a mini-Tesla. Nice design touch. To open the trunk double click the trunk on the key fob. Front trunk do the same. Rather than fumbling around trying to remember which button is which, it matches the car shape. Simple.

  2. Each key fob is connected to a user profile. I walk up to the car with my key fob and everything adjusts to my settings as I am getting in. So driver seat automatically moves into my position. Only the rearview mirror doesn't move. Lame.

  3. Door handles hide away when not need and are presented when unlocked. This doesn't seem important but it changes the look of the car when parked. A nice aesthetic touch.

  4. Same goes for the side rearview mirror. They fold in when parked. This is an option also. You can turn this feature off along with auto-present handle. But why would you? It looks cool.

  5. The steering wheel rattles slightly if you change lanes without giving your turn signal. I'll admit this seemed like a bug but a technician told me this is a feature. Can't tell if he was bullshitting me or not. Regardless, it is a gentle reminder to use your turn signals.

  6. Over the air software updates. Seriously this is the best feature. New features are pushed to the Tesla fleets. You are constantly getting new features. You don't get that "I'm stuck with this same car" feeling.

  7. Cute things like turning your Tesla icon on the dashboard into Santa Claus. Kids loved that. In that mode, when you use the turn signals jiggle bells play out instead of usual sounds.

  8. All glass roof. This is different feature. Really cool at night. Gets a little hot on those hot summer days.

  9. The frunk. No engine so you get an extra space in the front. I use the frunk for things takeout food. I'm not smelling up my Tesla with pizza. It also provides added protection in an accident by giving a larger crumple zone. Safe.

  10. Virtually no maintenance. No oil change. No timing belt. No tire rotation. Thank god. Never liked going to the mechanic. They jacking people.

  11. Regenerative braking. This is an optional feature. My personal favorite. Normally when you let you foot off the gas the car keep rolling. In this mode, the motor actually reverses and provides a more braking feel. This means when I roll up into a stop light I often don't hit the brakes until I am almost completely stopped. Which means you use your brakes less. Which means you don't have to change them very often. Genius. Takes some getting use to but well worth it and safer.

Tesla Model S Issues

  1. USB ports are basically useless. Only the 12V can really power your phone with an adaptor. Not sure what the other ones are for.

  2. Streaming music leaves a lot to be desired. Wish they integrated Spotify or something else than TuneIn.

  3. Voice activation is a bit sketchy. Never can get it to understand anything. Maybe I can't speak clearly.

That's all I could think of for now.

Target the 95%

The KISS design principle is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid.” The idea is that most systems work better when things are kept simple. I agree and that is why I think targeting a wider audience increases your chances of success. I’m all about making things simple.

Have you every heard of IoT or Internet of Things? What the hell does that mean? There are about 5% of the people who get jazzed about techie things like that but for the rest of us it makes no sense. It is confusing. The majority of the market needs a simpler explanation. Wearables, Hearables, and Nearables maybe gives this market a better description. This would make sense to my parents. Side note, I always use my parents as a barometer. If they can understand then I have simplified it enough for everyone else. By the way if you have a product or app you want to test, let me know and I’ll run it by my parents.

Apple’s Success

The iPhone and the rest of Apple’s products are not widely successful because of anything drastically different. They just do a better job than everyone else in targeting the other 95% who understand simple. There is a reason Apple products do not allow access to the internal hard drive or allow much customization. They know most people do not need this access nor do they care. Keep it simple. It works. What is lost with Apple though is how complicated it is to build phones and tablets. How complex the internal hardware and software is to provide a seamless experience. Yet that is not is important. The user matters. The 95% user understands simple.

Sure you can have a niche product in a niche market. I get that. I believe your odds are better as a niche product in a wide market.

Focus your energy initially on the 95%. They will tell you if your idea is a hit. An argument can be made the 95% do not know what they want. Steve Jobs was known for believing this idea. I agree to an extent. Most ideas are not as revolutionary as an iPhone. Most people do not have the panache to dictate terms like Steve Jobs. I suggest initially target the 95%. Be also prepared to dive deep for the those who want the nitty gritty details.

Clear The Fog

Once you begin to think about making things simpler, it seems the fog has lifted. Things will instantly become clearer. Communication improves. There is quite a bit of discussion around minimalism. The idea around minimalism is to live without excess. Reduce the clutter from your life. That is essentially the concept behind keeping things simple. Some minimalist take it to the extreme though. You don’t need to live our of a garbage bag. Focus on what is it you really need. Do you really need to have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and cable? Why not just pick one or none. Do you really need to setup Slack (messaging tool) right away as you start your business. Email works just fine. Build a strong foundation first. Then add the fancy paint. You may not even know it but adding all these extras actually are more distracting then helpful. There is a time and place for extras.

Simple Startup

  1. Get Email

  2. Get a Website

  3. Get a email marketing tool

That is a nice easy start. All of those can be done with minimal cost or free. Focus on the idea first.

Simple Workout

  1. Pushups

  2. Squats

  3. Dips

See I just saved you thousands of dollars on a gym membership. Cancel it today unless you pay less than $20/month. You can do that in your living room with your kids running around or while watching Game of Thrones. Anything else is unnecessary extra. I could do this all day.

The progression is when you focus your idea into more simpler terms comprehension increases. You will be able to filter out any unnecessary junk. Then I believe you begin to master the subject, idea, business, anything.

What you are left with is the ability to push the boundaries. You will have established a solid foundation. The difference between good and great players is the great players keep pushing the limits.

What Is The Point?

The bottom line is whether you are developing a product, establishing a business, building a website, nutrition, fitness, etc, start with keeping things simple. Your UI should be easy to use. Marketing material should be clear and simple. Sales presentations should be simple. They should not look like datasheets.

I believe building on a clear and simple mindset will lead to a strong foundation. A strong foundation to build on. A strong foundation will open you up to take more risks. This mindset will help you get through the tough times in your business. You’ll have a philosophy to lean back on when faced with a difficult decision. The 95% understand simple.

Keep it simple.